General, Life

Just a couple of cents (plink plink)…

06.28.05 | Comment?

It’s not uncommon to see a person standing on the corner at a stop light, hoping for handouts, sometimes employing a sign and a woebegone visage. I usually spend the rest of the day wondering how it got so bad, what his life was like before this. Did he cause it? Is he weak, a slave to addiction, mentally ill, lazy? Is he more a victim of circumstance, born into some unlucky situation? What separates him from me? Nobody is really any “better” or more deserving than anyone else – why the discrepancy?

They usually say “God bless you” when you help. It’s sweet, and I’m glad they have something like faith to keep them going, but I always wonder: are they really still buying into that? How can they be so loyal? Of course, maybe that sort of thinking is what keeps them there, believing that the tide will turn miraculously in their favor. They stand there, rather passively, hoping. You can be faithful, but sometimes you have to make things happen for yourself.

It’s easy to turn a blind eye or rationalize that if he’s that hungry he should go get a job. But I’ve seen how hard it is to get a job when you have an address, skills, and a good head on your shoulders; take away even one of those, add a week or more with no shower, no shave, and no decent shirt to put on, and you have yourself a predicament.

Begging gets you maybe a few dollars a day, with which you might be able to buy some cheap, hollow food. Once in California I saw a man go ostrich-like in a trash can outside a fast food joint. (The one thing worse than their fare – their half-eaten fare.) I want to rush home, make something nourishing, and take it to him; he’s gone again.

It makes my heart hurt. I wish there were more I could do. I can give him what I have on me, but more than that I want to fix his situation. This is why I must become insanely wealthy (ideally helping people along the way). I have plans, and they do not include blinging out some mansion.

Sorry to be Debbie Downer – it just took hold of me again today. I won’t spend every waking moment all monk-like and guilty, but every once in awhile a reminder is good. I’m fortunate, and if you’re reading this, you are, too. Don’t take it for granted.

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